Images of an inferno engulfing Grace House at King’s College, Budo sent a chill down my spine. Happily, we lost no human life, and the building will be restored.
If you’re feeling down and out, because of your life’s exertions, come with me my friend, to a place so special, of beauty and peace untroubled, with memories of dear ones lost, in their dreamless sleep eternal.
Memories of Budo, where adolescence surrendered to adulthood, restore my strength anew, my breath just comes with ease, light up my soul so bright, and banish all the darkness.
Rwaboona and Mbareeba, Kwizera and Kanyandeku, boys with whom we dared, to join a place beyond us. The misty cold of the mountains, our shoeless feet so hardened, our parents driving us forth, conspired to secure our success.
Red buses of Uganda Transport Company delivered us to Kampala, the city of lights and cars, and the greatest spectacle of all, atop Kololo Hill. Through that thing, we learnt, television images were beamed, to a box they called TV.
Kigezi High School behind us, King’s College, Budo received us, on a hill in Busiro County, whose place in Buganda’s traditions, among the most important, and soon we felt at home.
Among the best we sat, and learnt under the masters, a world and language new, to which our future belonged. The teachers, among the best, set to work on us, a task that must have given them, endless streams of chuckling, at the sounds of our varied accents.
Time for the roll call, Class 1A 1967: Akera, Anyaku, Asinai, their names a rhythmic song, whose melody triggers a smile, a lifetime since first heard.
Baatuma, Bugonga, Bwogi, a bookworm trio, reliable sources of information, that one missed during homesick moments or daydreams that must remain classified.
Jackson Philipson Juma, lone owner of that letter in the alphabet, a tall and elegant brother, a refugee from the Sudan, a detail that never mattered a bit. Our origins were irrelevant, for we were siblings at Budo, a bond that remains unbroken.
Kakeeto, Kibowa, Kisa, Kwehangaana and Kwizera, my name among this quintet, mispronounced by Baganda friends, mutilated by British teachers, thus deprived of its true meaning – perseverance.
Perseverance, in a high dosage too, was what one needed, as one negotiated the world of strange concepts and traditions. Happily, teachers and students alike, shared knowledge and offered help with pleasure, enriched the learner’s knowledge and sharpened one’s grey cells.
Mugoya, Mukanga, Mukasa C, Mukasa K, Mukasa S, Mukoza, Mundua and
Mwesigye, the M-Octet, owners of names that represented all four regions of Uganda. Those were the days when Budo was accessible to kids from the humblest schools in the land, not just those from the better funded ones around Kampala—Entebbe.
Ndimbiirwe, Ngalam and Njuki, whose frequent laughter I hear in my memory, half a century after we left our school. A very happy trio they were, just like the rest of the class.
Semivule, Senoga and Sevume, among the best I have met, in my travels around the world. Senoga was the only female, our sister and teacher, for that was how we learnt, that chromosomes had nothing to do with intelligence. Without doubt one of the brightest students, she made mathematics sound like a kid’s game. Her future as an engineer was shaped as we watched.
Tisa Sabuni, perhaps the tallest in the class, jovial and most friendly, a refugee from Sudan, but very much at home in our family. His story after Budo, invites full narration, to be done one of these days, God willing.
Edward Wilson, the last name on the roll call, added value to us, for he had seen a world beyond our borders. His stories from his travels, told with a smile inherited from his father, should have been written before the memory faded.
Bright beyond measure, like sponges, my classmates absorbed new knowledge and excelled without much effort. One wishes all were still around, to enjoy everyone’s journey, now that all are senior citizens.
Sadly, seven of our brothers are dead, and the whereabouts of three are unknown. Richard Anyaku, Stephen Bugonga, Jackson Juma, Douglas Kakeeto, Samuel Godfrey Mukasa, Crispus Mundua and Godfrey Barbosa Ndimbiirwe, all prematurely deceased, their deaths a terrible reminder that we should live in the moment. We miss them and remember them, with tenderness and heavy hearts.
We continue to search for Solomon Mugabi Bwogi, John Peter Asinai and Alex Eliud Masaba Mugoya, hoping for good news about them and a reunion while our eyes still can see, our ears free from deafness and our memories in a serviceable state.
The happy memories extend beyond my classroom. To list my schoolmates I can’t, but remember them I do, the bonds so strong and true, of dreams and ventures shared.
Together we remember, our teachers and our mentors, blessed to have amidst us, the best among them still. Neil Bonnell in Australia, Denis Chisholm, Colin Davis, Roger Girard, Susan Gould, Jonathan Watson and Patrick Whittle, these six living in Britain, among the finest that set us on track.
What else floods the mind? That walk beyond the spur, overlooking the southern marshlands, sweet breeze from Lake Nnalubaale, senses caressed and nourished, the mind relieved of clutter.
Guy Rob with regal bearing, whose name was Ian Cameron Robinson, kindness his natural state, we felt safe because he cared, and we lived and learnt with ease. He was the greatest headmaster I had, in my most important years, of formal learning.
Great times we had at Budo, in class and play and all. My hero among our heroes, remains a man we called Congo, whose nuts excelled in taste, his stories a rib-cracking fest.
Of adventures in our social lives, silence must rule the page, except to confess a longing, for another moment in the dining room, to eat food that was definitely intended, for the military and prisoners of war.
Mulera is a medical doctor.